Diary of a PDA Journalist 3: Modeling Convergence

by Reads (5,849)

It’s been a good while since I took time to make another one of these journal entries. One of the reasons is that I have been somewhat bored with the PDA landscape of late. There are PDAs that just go PDA stuff, then you have those PDAs that have wireless connectivity such as Bluetooth and Wifi, and then there are smartphones (which are kool in idea, but compromises abound).

My problem though has been that I have grown tired of carrying my Palm Tungsten T5 and phone around. Not that they aren’t getting the job done. In fact, they are doing the job quite well. I just don’t like the bulge that they make in my pockets when I am carrying them. And to have a belt clip for both would make me more technosexual (really, it’s a word, see here) than just the guy who wants to be connected when he wants to be.

So this past week, I decided that I would jump on the convergence train. I had been reading a good deal about the rumored Treos and HTC Universal and just been wondering if convergence was just a delayed reality on my end. I knew the compromises involved, and even that the cost of entry was just quite a bit high. But I wanted to model something that would work. I settled on a Treo 600 and since then I have been a lot impressed and a bit less skeptical about the future of Palm, and of converged PDAs in general.

Having a Treo 600 has been an exercise in renewed productivity (and lighter pockets). Where I thought that the screen resolution (160×160 pixels) would be a hindrance compared to my T5 (320×480 pixels); I have found it to be more of an advantage as it has shown me exactly what I needed on the screen at once. The one-handed navigation was also a plus, and though the T5 does it better, it feels more integrated with the Treo.

The main aspect, getting email and being connected, has been much easier, as I have not had to wait for my T5 to connect to the phone and then call up the GPRS connection. I have basically been able to stay connected all of the time, and therefore able to use more of the online functionality than I had with the T5.

The drawbacks are somewhat ironic to me. My T5 gets much better battery life, I really miss that. I also liked the 256MB of internal memory and Drive mode feature, as I used my T5 as a USB Drive many times at work to transfer docs here and there. The T5 also has a better web browser, and is a touch snappier during some of my larger applications and games. It’s only ironic to me, because on the productivity end of things, I think they both fit my needs quite well. Maybe a mix of the T5 and Treo 600 should be what I am looking for (Palm, are you listening)?

When I went to a retreat this weekend, I talked about technology and how we should be owners of the technology instead of letting it own us. I think that converged devices enable that. I am not a slave to my PDA when I walk out with the Treo. I think that’s where mobile computing needs to be on a social level. It needs to fit into one’s life and just empower them to be light and accessible. That’s why I think that PDAs aren’t going anywhere. For some people, having a non-connected PDA is great as it is just enough technology to fit into their lives. And for them, that is the model of convergence: technology that just works for them, not the other way around.

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